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Champaign, IL, United States

Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2014

ABSTRACT: CU Aerospace (CUA) and team partner the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) propose to perform research, development and demonstration of experimental quenching free measurements of heat-release in a realistic highly turbulent plasma-assisted flame. Kinetics models will be correspondingly updated and detailed 3D multiphysics simulations will be validated by the measurements. Current diagnostic tools are difficult to implement for 2D measurements of intermediate species to support the modeling and physical understanding of these complex processes. To fill this technology gap, this proposal introduces innovations that will produce the higher precision diagnostic techniques and greatly enhance knowledge of these plasmadynamic and chemical kinetic phenomena. This SBIR effort will lead to aircraft engine design improvements that will provide enhanced combustion efficiency, reignition and flame holding for very high altitude, high-speed flight in Phase II of this program. These enhancements and understanding will have major implications for the expansion of aircraft mission envelopes, and our goal is to jointly develop with UIUC these diagnostic and software tools of choice for the industry. BENEFIT: The Phase I results will lay the foundation to develop a prototype diagnostic and modeling suite for comprehensive development and testing in the Phase II program. Incorporating the Phase I diagnostic techniques along with Air Force guidance for most desired features, the diagnostic and software suite will be enhanced and tested extensively in Phase II as a product demonstration unit. Applications of the developed approach include next generation warfighters capable of flying at higher altitudes and/or higher speeds, and technologies that would be used by engine manufacturers for the development of high-altitude propulsion systems, possibly enabling low-cost to space access via hybrid hypersonic launch. Commercial applications that utilize control of plasma enhanced combustion have the potential to fundamentally bring transformative changes to our combustion-based energy infrastructure by providing (1) the potential for flexible and broad integration of alternative fuels and plasma technology in our everyday lives; (2) more powerful and energy efficient combustion systems for power generation and transportation; (3) reduction of harmful pollutants in our environment; (4) improvements in national security from fuel blends with less dependence on foreign oil, and (5) a more sustainable and efficient energy infrastructure. Furthermore, plasma assisted chemistry could have broader impact in many other areas where it is beneficial to manipulate species content and reaction pathways, including plasma assisted processing of materials, environmental remediation of waste streams such as from smokestacks, and plasma lighting. The Phase II goal will initially be to optimize the diagnostic and software, and design features for Air Force specifications, followed by optimization for more commercial programs.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.99K | Year: 2015

ABSTRACT: CU Aerospace (CUA) and team partner the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) propose to perform research, development and demonstration of experimental quenching free measurements of heat-release in a realistic highly turbulent plasma-assisted flame. Kinetics models will be correspondingly updated and detailed 3D multiphysics simulations will be validated by the measurements. Current diagnostic tools are difficult to implement for 2D measurements of intermediate species to support the modeling and physical understanding of these complex processes. To fill this technology gap, this proposal implements innovative diagnostic techniques that will significantly increase measurement precision and greatly enhance knowledge of these plasmadynamic and chemical kinetic phenomena. This SBIR effort will lead to aircraft engine design improvements that will provide enhanced combustion stability and efficiency, reignition and flame holding for very high altitude, high-speed flight in Phase II of this program. These enhancements and understanding will have major implications for the expansion of aircraft mission envelopes, and our goal is to jointly develop with UIUC these diagnostic and software tools of choice for the industry.; BENEFIT: The Phase I results laid the foundation to develop a prototype diagnostic and modeling suite for comprehensive development and testing in the Phase II program. Incorporating the Phase I diagnostic techniques along with Air Force guidance for most desired features, the diagnostic and software suite will be enhanced and tested extensively in Phase II as a product demonstration unit. Applications of the developed approach include next generation warfighters capable of flying at higher altitudes and/or higher speeds, and technologies that would be used by engine manufacturers for the development of high-altitude propulsion systems, possibly enabling low-cost to space access via hybrid hypersonic launch. Commercial applications that utilize control of plasma enhanced combustion have the potential to fundamentally bring transformative changes to our combustion-based energy infrastructure by providing (1) the potential for flexible and broad integration of alternative fuels and plasma technology in our everyday lives; (2) more powerful and energy efficient combustion systems for power generation and transportation; (3) reduction of harmful pollutants in our environment; (4) improvements in national security from fuel blends with less dependence on foreign oil, and (5) a more sustainable and efficient energy infrastructure. Furthermore, plasma assisted chemistry could have broader impact in many other areas where it is beneficial to manipulate species content and reaction pathways, including plasma assisted processing of materials, environmental remediation of waste streams such as from smokestacks, and plasma lighting. The Phase II goal will initially be to optimize the diagnostic and software, and design features for Air Force specifications, followed by optimization for more commercial programs.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 80.00K | Year: 2015

CU Aerospace (CUA), teamed with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), proposes to research, develop, and demonstrate thermal management simulation tools for next-generation two-phase cooling systems designed for transient high heat-flux naval applications. The software developed in this program can be used to evaluate advanced thermal management designs for critical emerging naval electronics applications (e.g. radar, railguns, and directed-energy). The improved heat transfer, increased power density, and reduced packaging size achievable with two-phase designs are advantageous when compared to single-phase cooling (e.g. water flow). However, active control features are required to address temperature variation, thermal lag, flow instabilities, and critical heat flux not found in current state-of-the-art single-phase systems. Addressing this, the proposed program introduces innovative tools for simulating two-phase systems which can serve as an industry standard for evaluating and optimizing naval thermal management designs. Phase I efforts will focus on component model development and preliminary experimental validation, serving as a basis for advanced multiple-cold-plate architecture pursued in Phase II. The toolset produced in this program will have major implications for the future designs of two-phase thermal management systems in warships, offering a comprehensive approach for reducing size, weight, and power consumption, while improving thermal load handling.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2014

ABSTRACT: Living systems rely on pervasive vascular networks to enable a plurality of biological function, exemplified by natural composite structures that are lightweight, high-strength, and capable of mass and energy transport. In contrast, synthetic composites possess high strength-to-weight ratios but lack the dynamic functionality of their natural counterparts. CU Aerospace, with team partners the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), North Carolina State University (NCSU), and Lockheed Martin, propose to use a revolutionary microvascular technology developed at UIUC to build a composite counter-flow heat exchanger. This technology relies on 3D weaving of sacrificial fibers into a polymeric matrix, which are subsequently vaporized to obtain a uniform array of capillaries. By weaving these sacrificial fibers with a perpendicular array of carbon fibers and using computational modeling to optimize the design, this device can achieve good lateral thermal conductance while retaining very low axial conductance. Most Joule-Thomson heat exchangers are either metal finned-tube devices with limited surface area between the solid and gas streams, or etched-glass/silicon devices that allow relatively limited gas flow and cooling power. A micro-capillary array based heat exchanger offers the potential for both large surface area and large gas flow, with a manufacturing process that offers low-cost mass production. BENEFIT: Development of the sacrificial fibers to allow incorporation of microvascular networks in polymeric composites has tremendous potential. Multiple functionalities are achieved by distributing different fluids throughout the microvascular network, which can be seamlessly integrated into both rigid and flexible materials. By circulating fluids with unique physical properties, there is the capability to create a new generation of biphasic composite materials in which the solid phase provides strength and form while the fluid phase provides interchangeable functionality. Applications that have been examined include self-healing, thermal management, electromagnetic signature, electrical conductivity tuning, and chemical reactivity. The impact of this technology is extremely broad and far-reaching, while our initial efforts are focused on military and aerospace applications; fertile research opportunities exist across a broad cross-section of industries. Long-term strategic plans are to leverage our development efforts to foster spin-off technologies in related industries.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 750.00K | Year: 2014

CU Aerospace proposes to perform design, fabrication, and ground test validation of a nanosat primary propulsion subsystem using non-toxic R134a propellant. Our approach, called CubeSat High Impulse Propulsion System (CHIPS), leverages CU Aerospace's very high efficiency warm-gas variant of an innovative resistojet that significantly boosts the performance of standard cold-gas systems with the existing Micro Propulsion System (MiPS) thruster technology development by our team partner, VACCO Industries. The MiPS system has been tested to 200,000 cycles without any technical issues, demonstrating excellent reliability. A 1.5U CHIPS subsystem, using non-toxic R134a propellant, is a compact thruster system having a total impulse of 680 N-s and a fully throttleable continuous thrust of 30 mN. The subsystem also includes an R134a 3-axis cold-gas attitude control system to replace reaction wheels. Approximately 25 W of primary power is required from a lithium-ion battery included in the 1.5U package. This low-cost subsystem demonstration will pioneer a family of nanosat propulsion systems, which will become available to the CubeSat and nanosatellite communities for orbit change, de-orbit, precision maneuvering, and drag makeup missions.

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